During the past decade, Jeffrey Berman has published widely on the pedagogy of personal writing. In Diaries to an English Professor (1994), he explored the ways in which undergraduate students can use psychoanalytic diaries to deal with conflicted issues in their lives. Surviving Literary Suicide (1999) investigated how graduate students respond to novels and poems that portray and sometimes glorify self-inflicted death.
In the book’s final chapter, Berman considers the risks and benefits of empathic teaching, demonstrating how teachers can play a therapeutic role in the classroom without being therapists.
Teachers who are regarded as trusting, supportive, and dependable, he argues, become attachment figures, influencing students to be more sensitive to and connected with their classmates’ lives. Or, as Berman succinctly puts it, empathic teaching leads to empathic learning, an education for life. –